Rumor Patrol: Is Rio Vegas Being Sold To The Milwaukee Bucks Owner?

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Stop if you’ve heard this before – Caesars Entertainment may be selling the Rio! This sale has been in the rumor mill for no less than five years.

The rumors about Rio being sold heated up again in 2018 with talk about imploding the casino and/or building a Major League Baseball stadium. Earlier this year the Rio sale rumor had even more details of a potential sale.

Alas, Rio is currently still owned by Caesars Entertainment.

Caesars recently named Tony Rodio the new CEO. Even with his appointment, the board members are still considering how to move forward with the company. They’re considering all options including selling all, or some, of their properties.

Once again, Rio is the first property to spark whispers around town. At the end of April, Vital Vegas got even more specific with the rumor about Rio being sold. This time they shared the name of a potential buyer: Michael Fascitelli.

This week Vital Vegas doubled down on the rumor of the sale by saying it will happen by the end of summer. The World Series of Poker should remain at the Rio even if the property is sold. Signing the deal and receiving regulatory approval will take a few months.

Who is Michael Fascitelli and what is Imperial Companies?

Fascitelli owns Imperial Companies, a real estate investment and development company. His company is similar to Blackstone, the owners of the Cosmopolitan. The main difference between the companies is that Imperial Companies does look to flip all of their assets.

Fascitelli has been in the real estate game for more than 30 years. Prior to starting his own company, Fascitelli was the CEO and president of Vornado Realty Trust. He still sits on their board of trustees. Imperial Companies develops residential real estate, urban and retail properties, and hospitality.

While they primarily look for property in New York City, but they also look at other major US cities. Imperial has the goal of creating value and wealth through ownership, development and strategic partnerships with their real estate holdings.

In addition to owning Imperial Companies and serving on various boards, Fascitelli is a part owner of the Milwaukee Bucks of the NBA. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers is also part of the Bucks ownership group.

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Does the Rio Las Vegas hotel offer a real estate investor value?

The Rio is sort of the redheaded stepchild of Caesars Entertainment. With the exception of a few venues closing and opening, the property has barely been maintained over the past five years.

Meanwhile, Caesars Entertainment has been upgrading all of their resorts on the Vegas Strip. When the year ends, the casino giant will have renovated about 90% of their Las Vegas hotel rooms over the past four years. The Rio is the only Caesars Entertainment property that hasn’t seen any kind of significant room upgrade.

The neglected property might be available at fire sale prices under new leadership. There’s plenty of upside with any renovations at the blighted property. In addition to creating a new casino-resort, there’s a lot of land for future development by the new owner or someone else.

A new owner could refurbish the Rio resort and casino while selling the land that isn’t needed for the main property. The addition of an MLB stadium at the Rio is just one of many rumors. There has also been chatter about creating a train station for the new Virgin Trains.

This stretch of Flamingo Road just west of the Vegas Strip could become a new hotbed of activity for visitors to Las Vegas looking for something new and different. A refreshed Rio or brand new property could compliment the nearly $700 million upgrade of the Palms across the street.

Marc Meltzer

About

Marc grew up on the mean streets of the South Bronx. He's the rare combination of Yankees and Jets fan which explains his often contrarian point of view. Marc is a freelance writer and social media consultant. Writing about steak, booze, gambling and Las Vegas is a tough job but somebody has to do it.

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